Academy Award-Nominated Actress Debra Winger talks with Justin Bozung for TV Store Online about the 1984 Warner Brothers maudit MIKE'S MURDER...
MIKE'S MURDER INTERVIEW SERIES
Part 1: Mark Keyloun
Part 2: Debra Winger
Part 3: Dan Shor
Part 4: Jack Larson
Part 5: Darrell Larson
WINGER: Well, I was living on a farm in Ohio when [director] Jim [Bridges] fetched me for MIKE'S MURDER. It was during my first retirement. (laughing) How did I find the character? Jim and I worked together so closely. In a weird way, I think that Betty was facilitating the story even though if you watch the film--maybe, you might think it's a psychological thriller from the point-of-view of Betty. But, I felt that she was in service to the story. It was sort of like she was the film camera. You mentioned a moment ago how you thought that MIKE'S MURDER was an under-appreciated film, and I guess that, in a way, that was how I saw Betty as well. I think that there are people in the world, and it isn't like they don't know who they are--but it's as if the world doesn't really appreciate what's special about them. And when I use the word "appreciate" there, I'm using it in an old-fashioned way. Like: "I appreciate what you're saying..." In that way, Betty was an unappreciated type in the world. Hence, her job as a bank teller and her invisibility. That allowed her to tell that story.
WINGER: Parrish? Yes, that's true.
WINGER: Well, I couldn't name her Perishable!
TV STORE ONLINE: (laughing)
WINGER: I think that was kind of what I feeling about life from the story. That life was perishable. The best words are those that have multiple meaning, so, it's nice to know that you did your homework on that. (laughing)
TV STORE ONLINE: There's a nice touch that is implemented in the film...Once Betty finds out that Mike has been murdered she begins to wear dark sunglasses for the rest of the film...As if the film is a funeral or wake...Was that something that you brought to the character?
TV STORE ONLINE: What were your thoughts at the time on the whole Warner Brothers thing...The studio insisting that the film be re-cut prior to it's theatrical release because of the bad test screenings....
TV STORE ONLINE: Do you think the film suffered from the re-cutting? Jim's first cut has almost become the stuff of legend today...
TV STORE ONLINE: When MIKE'S MURDER came out there was a interview with Jim Bridges in the New York Times were he mentioned how you had leave the set on the day that Mike's murder in the apartment was filmed...
WINGER: Well, I just said, "You guys set the room..." Jim had the room dressed from his crime scene research, and it wasn't like Betty had seen a crime scene before in her life. I think a lot of the problem is that we just see so much violence on television now that it makes you numb to it. So when I walked in and saw all of that--yes, of course, I had a visceral reaction to it. They had to use cow's blood and it really stunk. I think it's an honest reaction that one would have in that situation.
WINGER: Jim and I did talk about that. We had long discussions about ways that I've gotten myself out of tight spots that I've been in. We talked about drugs and paranoia, and disorders that come from paranoia. Clearly I was dealing with a paranoid person, and when someone is in a paranoid state you can distract them in many ways. Plus, I think that we were probably paying homage to WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967). The refrigerator plays such a key role in that film.
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung